Home > The Darkest Star (Origin #1)

The Darkest Star (Origin #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

1

If Mom ever found out I was sitting outside of Foretoken, she would kill me. Like, legit hide-my-body-in-a-deep-dark-grave kind of kill me. And my mom totally had the means to do so.

When she went from Momma baking brownies in the kitchen to Colonel Sylvia Dasher, she put the fear of God and then some in me.

But knowing just how much trouble I’d be in if I got caught obviously hadn’t stopped me, because here I was, sitting in Heidi’s car, applying yet another coat of lipstick with a shaky hand. Shoving the lipstick wand back into its tube, I watched fat raindrops bomb the windshield. My heart threw itself against my ribs as if it were determined to punch its way out.

I couldn’t believe I was here.

I’d rather be home, finding random things in my house to take pictures of and posting them on Instagram. Like those new gray-and-white vintage candleholders Mom had bought. They’d look amazing paired with the pale blue and pink pillows I had in my bedroom.

From the driver’s seat, Heidi Stein sighed heavily. “You’re second-guessing this.”

“Nuh-uh.” I eyed my final results in the little mirror in the visor. My lips were so red, it looked like I’d French-kissed an overripe strawberry.

Nice.

And my brown eyes were way too big for my roundish, freckled face. I looked scared, like I was about to walk naked into class twenty minutes late.

“Yeah, you are, Evie. I can see it etched into the five hundred coats of lipstick you just applied.”

Wincing, I glanced over at her. Heidi looked completely at ease in her strapless black dress and dark eye makeup. She had that cat-eye thing down, something I couldn’t re-create without looking like an abused raccoon. Heidi had done an amazing job on my eyes before we’d left her house, though, giving them a smoky, mysterious look. I thought I actually looked pretty good. Well, except for the whole looking-scared part, but . . .

“Is the red lipstick too much?” I asked. “Do I look bad?”

“I’d be into you if I liked blondes.” She grinned when I rolled my eyes. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

I peeked out the window at the dark, windowless building squeezed in between a closed boutique shop and a cigar store. My breath hitched in my throat.

FORETOKEN was written in black paint above the red double doors. I squinted. On second thought, the name of the club looked like it had been spray-painted on the gray cement. Classy.

Everyone who went to Centennial High knew of Foretoken, a club that was packed every night, even on Sundays, and was notorious for allowing outrageously fake IDs to slide by.

And Heidi and I were most definitely seventeen and 100 percent in possession of some fake-as-hell driver’s licenses that no one in their right mind would believe were real.

“Because I’m worried you’re not going to have fun.” Heidi poked my arm, drawing my attention. “Like you’ll get freaked out and call Zoe. And you know you can’t call April to come get you either. That girl is not allowed within a ten-block radius of this place.”

I drew in a shallow breath that felt like it went nowhere. “I’ll have fun. I swear. It’s just . . . I’ve never done this before.”

“Done what? Gone somewhere you weren’t supposed to? Because I know that’s not true.” She held up a finger, and the nail looked like it had been dipped in black ink. “You have no problem breaking and entering when it comes to climbing around abandoned buildings to take pictures.”

“That’s different.” I dropped the lipstick into my little wristlet. “You sure these IDs are going to work?”

She shot me a bland look. “Do you know how many times I’ve been here and had no problems? Yes, you do. You’re stalling.”

I was totally stalling.

Looking out the window again, I could barely suppress the shiver tiptoeing down my spine. Puddles were forming in the vacant street and there was no one on the sidewalks. It was like once the sun went down and Foretoken unlocked its doors, the streets emptied of everyone who exhibited an ounce of common sense.

Foretoken also had the reputation for something entirely different than allowing fake IDs.

Aliens were known to hang out here.

Like legit extraterrestrial beings that had come from trillions of light-years away. They called themselves the Luxen, and they looked like us—well, a better version of most of us. Their bone structure was often perfect, their skin airbrush-smooth, and their eye colors were shades that we humans couldn’t achieve without contacts.

And not all of them had come in peace.

Four years ago, we’d been invaded, totally Hollywood-movie-level invaded, and we’d almost lost the war—almost lost the entire planet to them. I’d never forget the statistic that had dominated the news once the TVs starting broadcasting again: 3 percent of the world’s population. That was 220 million people lost in the war, and my father had been one of them.

But over the last four years, the Luxen who hadn’t been on Team Kill All the Humans and had helped fight their own kind had been slowly integrated into our world—into our schools and jobs, government and military. They were everywhere now. I’d met plenty of them, so I didn’t know why coming here freaked me out so much.

But Foretoken wasn’t school or an office building, where the Luxen were typically outnumbered and heavily monitored. I had a sinking suspicion that humans were the minority beyond those red doors.

Heidi poked my arm again. “If you don’t want to do this, we don’t have to.”

I twisted in the seat toward her. One look at Heidi’s face told me that she was being genuine. She would turn the car on and we’d go back to her place if that were what I wanted. Probably end the night gorging ourselves on those cupcakes her mom had picked up from the bakery. We’d watch really bad romantic comedies until we passed out from a ridiculously high caloric intake, and that sounded . . . lovely.

But I didn’t want to bail on her.

Coming here meant a lot to Heidi. She could be herself without worrying about people getting all up in her business about who she was dancing with or checking out, whether it be a boy or another girl.

There was a reason why the Luxen were comfortable coming here. Foretoken was welcoming to everyone, no matter their sexuality, gender, race, or . . . species. They weren’t a human-only establishment, which was rare nowadays when it came to privately owned businesses.

Tonight was special, though. There was this girl Heidi had been talking to, and she wanted me to meet her. And I wanted to meet her, so I needed to stop acting like a dork who’d never been to a club before.

I could totally do this.

Smiling at Heidi, I poked her back. “No. I’m fine. I’m just being stupid.”

She stared at me a moment, cautious. “You sure?”

“Yes.” I nodded for extra emphasis. “Let’s do this.”

Another moment passed and then Heidi broke out in a wide smile. She leaned over, throwing her arms around me. “You’re the best.” She squeezed me tight, causing me to giggle. “Seriously.”

“I know.” I patted her arm. “I put the awe in awesome.”

She snort-laughed in my ear. “You are so weird.”

“I told you I am.” I untangled myself from her hug and then reached for the car door before I could chicken out. “Ready?”

“Yep,” she chirped.

I climbed out and immediately shrieked as cold rain hit the bare skin of my arms. I slammed the door shut and then darted across the dark street, my hands forming the weakest shield ever over my hair. I’d spent way too much time curling the long strands into waves for the rain to ruin it.

Water splashed over my heels, and when I hopped up on the sidewalk, I was surprised I hadn’t slipped and fallen face-first into the asphalt.

Heidi was right behind me, laughing as she rushed under the awning, shaking the mist of rain from her pin-straight crimson hair.

“Holy crap, this rain is cold,” I gasped. It felt more like the rain that fell in October than in early September.

“My makeup isn’t running down my face like I’m some chick about to be killed in a horror movie?” she asked, reaching for the door.

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